The Portable Lights Trade Organization (PLATO) has published ANSI/PLATO FL 1-2016 Flashlight Basic Performance Standard. These standards help you compare flashlight performance, making it easier for you to make the best choice for your needs.
ANSI/PLATO FL 1 was the first flashlight standard worldwide, introducing definitions and testing methods for flashlight basic performance, as well as associated markings. It focuses on directional lighting, not lanterns or area lighting. The information is useful to consumers across a variety of industries and interests, including firefighters, paramedics, police, military, security, outdoor sports and activities, agriculture, and mining.
Developing ANSI/PLATO FL 1
Before ANSI/PLATO FL1 was developed, you couldn’t tell how a light would perform until you bought it and tried it for yourself. That was costly for consumers and frustrating for manufacturers like us, who work hard to make quality lighting tools.
Developed with the guidance of the American National Standards Institute, PLATO, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and representatives from 14 companies in the portable lighting industry, these standards help you rate and compare the most important features of personal lighting tools.
ANSI/PLATO FL 1 provides a uniform way of defining, measuring, and marking basic flashlight performance. The clearly defined test methods and marking rules help retailers and consumers gain a clearer understanding of the performance provided by a given product.
The following are the features covered by the ANSI/PLATO FL 1 Standards, along with the icon that represents that feature:
Peak Beam Intensity:
The maximum luminous intensity typically along the central axis of a cone of light. This measures the brightest part of the beam. The value is reported in candela.
The distance from the device at which the light beam is 0.25 lux. Results are reported in meters.
The degree to which a portable light resists damage when dropped on a solid surface. Dropped samples must not exhibit any cracks or breaks, and must remain fully functional in order to past the test.
The duration of time from the initial light output value (that’s 30 seconds after the light is turned on with fresh batteries) until the light output drops to 10% of the initial value.
A measurement of the total quantity of emitted overall light energy. The value is reported in lumens.
There are three tests that measure water resistance: • Resistance to Temporary Immersion in Water • Resistance to Continuous Immersion in Water • Resistance to Splashing Water
It’s important to know that adherence to these standards and reporting results is strictly voluntary; and that each participating flashlight company conducts its own tests, adhering to very specific guidelines.
An integrating sphere is a measurement device with an entrance port that can accept all the directional light output of the device under test, or can totally enclose the device itself. The walls of the sphere should be highly diffuse with high reflectivity (>80%) and the spectroradiometer should be shielded from direct view of the device under test by a baffle system.
Light is shined into an integrating sphere for 30-120 seconds. The 30 seconds gives chance for the LED to get hot and let the battery voltage to drop, which will result in a lower output number.
This measures the amount of time of continuous runtime until the light drops to 10% of its original output.
Peak Beam Intensity
This measures the light intensity in Lux at the brightest part of the beam. This is between 2m-30m away from the flashlight, depending on its type.
This is the maximum distance in metres at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux.
Water Resistance & Dust Protection
This is in relation to its IP Rating, which stands for Ingress Protection. This covers protection against water and dust particles. Within these tests the flashlights are exposed to various amounts of water sprayed in different quantities. This could be a small sprinkle, up to powerful water jets. The torch may even be plunged into a deep body of water with high pressure, to test if it is submersible or not. Against dust, it also undergoes a similarly rigorous amount of testing, being plunged into a dust chamber to test the torches integrity against fine dust particles and whether any of it will enter the unit and at what level it enters the torch.
This is the height in metres that the light can be dropped onto concrete, without it cracking or breaking and still being able to function. It will typically be dropped from this height about 6 times, to simulate the maximum times any reasonable person could expect to drop their torch. The units are dropped with their batteries.
Although these tests are non-compulsory, they ensure a uniformity across the board and in line with other reputable manufacturers.